“Mr Elson?” I opened the front door to a crumpled man in an old overcoat.
“Peter Elson,” he corrected me with an emphasis on the first name, as if to draw attention to some significance that I didn’t recognise, “I’ve brought the merchandise,” he indicated the Waitrose bag-for-life.
“Come in, come in!” I led him into the living room.
“Nice view,” he said taking in a sweep of East London new builds and unfinished high rises out of the patio doors, “how do you think they get the cranes onto the tops of the blocks?”
“I’ve no idea,” I confessed.
“You get the feeling that they climb up there during the night, don’t you? Sprout metal legs and climb up there...”
“They probably use helicopters. Chinooks or some kind of big-lifters.”
“...maybe six legs like some kind of insect. More like an insect than a spider. They look somewhat like a mantis. Although I imagine they travel in herds more like giraffes. Have you ever seen the cranes at Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey?”
“Peter. Peter Elson. I was easily as big as Foss back in my heyday, you know?” He insisted.
“Peter, I’m in a little bit of a hurry this afternoon. Would it be possible to see the merchandise?”
“Of course,” he took a ball of newspaper out of the bag and placed it on the coffee table, carefully removing layers, until the object underneath was revealed: an exotic helmet of some sort. It was bulbous with an onion dome, bronzed with dark inlays, a filigree visor flared out from the brow and two pipes like vacuum cleaner tubes emerged from the muzzle.
“And you say that you found this?” I asked.
“Yes, in a junkshop in Hastings. All the proprietor could tell me was that it had been given to him by a man from The East.”
I inspected the surface of the dome, “do you know what it’s made of?”
“I’ve never seen anything like it before. I’ve had the metal inspected by a specialist.”
“Oh yes, where was that?”
“He was a friend who had an interest in such things.”
“I see,” I didn’t. “And why are you selling this curio?”
“I need the money,” he looked up at me, “for medicine. I’m not a well man. I just don’t get the work any more, you know? It’s all computer graphics these days. Back in my heyday people like Foss and Pennington and me...”
“Is cash okay, Mr Elson?”
Galactic Emperor Blues is a suite of electronic pieces by Zali Krishna. Recorded in Hoxton in 2011.